The Room Where It Happened

July 13, 2020

On a cold Saturday in February, I visited the city of Philadelphia, PA. As a native Californian, my first discovery in the city was the bitter chill of a sunny winter day. Next, I learned that Philadelphia is a timeless, historically rich city. This I learned when I toured Independence Hall, the room where America and its ideals were birthed. If for no other reason than the collective wisdom gathered in the room over two hundred and thirty years before me, I was struck with a deep sense of awe. I stood in admiration of the scene, watching the sun shine through the windows onto army green cloth lining each of the tables in a hall that smelled of old wood. To describe the mood of the room in one word, I would choose earnest.

While I stood in Independence Hall, I imagined the scholars engaging in a rigorous debate about the fabric of our democracy, introducing the discourse that would become our nation’s politics. As I laid my eyes upon the room, and the chair at the head of it that once seated General George Washington, I was reminded that politics is the business of dreamers, an affair for people who dream of a better, fairer, and safer world. I am led to believe that the American identity forged out of a time like this, a time marred by crises, will reflect the best of our ideals. It is in times like this when America measures its resolve. 

It was sometime in the second month of the program that I began to feel comfortable with my internship and my schedule. When I did, I could not help but wake up each morning excited and prepared to take on the challenges of the day. In the office where I was an intern, at the National League of Cities, I committed to the mission of bettering communities through the meticulous and rewarding work of federal lobbying. I accepted the offer to join their team because of their reputation of professionalism and culture of inclusion. Along the way I met incredibly passionate advocates who cultivated my own understanding of what it means to fight for a just future.

I had decided to spend my final semester in Washington, DC because I wanted to experience something new and unique. UCDC did not disappoint. Over the course of the semester I built everlasting relationships that helped me unearth truths I had not yet considered. I came to appreciate that it is the cause of a generation to defend the integrity of our nation’s ideals and expand the concept of justice to underserved communities, our fellow dreamers, and our planet. And I discovered that patriotism is more than a love of country, it is a love of fellow countrymen and countrywomen. Even in a time as arduous as now, I am hopeful we can remember what it means to be compassionate patriots and look after the health, safety, and wellbeing of one another.

I would like to thank the Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service for supporting me during my experience in Washington, DC. I am honored to have been selected for the Matsui Washington Fellowship and I will maintain my commitment to public service in my days, months, and years ahead. I would also like to express my gratitude to the National League of Cities for giving me the opportunity to work with an incredible team to support elected officials across the country. Finally, I would like to thank my friends and family for supporting me in my endeavors. The UCDC Program was a learning experience for me and I would not have been afforded the opportunity to serve and grow as I have without the help of all of you. As I near the end of a chapter in my life, I am conscientious of the challenges ahead and confident in my ability to meet them.